Filipa Valente, Unit 20 2009
Hydro-Ecologies, Everglades Pump Station/Angling and Nature Park

The Everglades wetland ecosystem is a vast and rich ‘low land’ that has maintained the natural water equilibrium of South Florida since its origin in the last ice age. Human interference through large drainage projects over the last two centuries has left the ecosystem drained, exhausted and in danger of extinction. The result of these actions is not only the loss of a unique natural environment but also the disturbance of water systems that have left populations with a very reduced access to fresh water. Recent efforts to restore the original water balance have created other problems such as pollution and have increased the separation between the ecosystem and nearby communities.

These dysfunctional acts of water management act as a catalyst for a proposal for re-designing a pump station at the boundary of the Everglades and the communities of West Palm Beach and Miami. The design is developed by researching alternatives to flow control and filtration of water, taking inspiration from processes already present in the Everglades ecosystem. The structure and basic formal organization of the pump station is worked out through a series of water flow simulations. Natural filtration processes through local vegetation inform the fabric of the building while new water absorbent materials and processes suggest materiality. The premise is taken as an opportunity to develop a parallel and new type of architectural interface between the Everglades and the inhabitants of Miami and West Palm Beach. The articulation of these components creates a balanced ‘Hydro-Ecology’ that delivers solutions of water control for the region and creates inhabitable ‘wet landscapes’ for the Floridian population.